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James Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, artist, cartoonist, inventor, screenwriter, and filmmaker who achieved international fame as the creator of the Muppets.
Born in Greenville, Mississippi, he was raised in Leland, Mississippi, and Hyattsville, Maryland.
Henson began developing puppets while attending high school.
He created Sam and Friends while he was a freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park, a five-minute sketch-comedy puppet show that appeared on television.
He produced The Muppet Show in 1976, after scrapping plans for a Broadway show.
He won fame for his creations, particularly Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, and Ernie, and he was involved with Sesame Street for over 20 years.
Henson himself appeared as a guest on many shows, including The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Paar Program and The Ed Sullivan Show (although on his appearance on the September 11, 1966, episode of the show—released to DVD on 2011 as part of a collection of episodes featuring the Rolling Stones—Sullivan mis-introduced Henson as "Jim Newsom and his Puppets").
He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in home economics, after which he produced coffee advertisements and developed some experimental films.
He founded Muppets, Inc., in 1958, which became the Jim Henson Company.
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He believed that television puppets needed to have "life and sensitivity" A marionette's arms are manipulated by strings, but Henson used rods to move his Muppets' arms, allowing greater control of expression.